MUYF will be taking a short break, but please send any questions you may have to our email address: moneyunderyourfuton [at] gmail [dot] com. Enjoy the holidays and catch up with us when we return in January!
Barring the rare interest-yielding accounts, it is hard to get much out of your checking account besides the money you already deposited into it and some checks. But using programs associated with you bank may get you a little more. Two weeks ago, I wrote on how to make the most of your Citibank account using the ThankYou network, and today I will cover Bank of America.
Bank of America hosts Add It Up, an online shopping portal offering cash back for purchases you make through it. Of course, there are several other similar portals, such as ShopDiscover, UPromise, and each of the airline portals, and Add It Up won’t always have the best deal. However, it is worth a visit when you online shop, since the top cash back offer varies by retailer and the cash back earned through Add It Up is deposited directly into your Bank of America checking account – unlike ShopDiscover, for which there are thresholds for cash back redemption, and UPromise, which has a threshold and only makes transfers quarterly. (Click here for a previous post comparing different cash back offers and here for last week’s NYTimes’ Your Money column’s explanation on online shopping portals).
Moreover, unlike most other online portals, Bank of America has a good range of in-store partners as well – at least until the end of 2009. Once you register your Bank of America checking account for the Add It Up program, you can get a 5% cash back for purchases you make at Staples, Barnes & Noble, Sephora, Macy’s, and Radio Shack stores and at Olive Garden and Burger King restaurants. This offer runs until December 31, 2009, and is limited to $250 in cash back. Once you enroll in the Add It Up program, just use your Bank of America check/debit card when shopping at these stores and the bonus will be credited straight into you checking account. And don’t forget that you can always combine these cash back offers with store coupons.
With Add It Up, it is almost as if Bank of America is paying you to do your holiday shopping – or at least giving you a discount for doing so.
Filed under: banking, checking, online shopping, shopping | Tagged: add it up, bank of america, barnes&noble, burger king, cash back, in-store shopping, macys, olive garden, online shopping, radio shack, sephora, staples | Leave a comment »
The Health Care Flexible Savings Account (FSA) can be a great idea since it allows you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for any medical expenses not covered by your health insurance. But the FSA operates under a use-it-or-lose-it principle, so make sure you clean out your account by the end of the deadline or risk forfeiting the balance.
- Check to see if your employer’s plan operates under the old December, 31, 2009 deadline or the extended March 15, 2010 deadline.
- Depending on the deadline, make a list of health care items you need to purchase or medical procedures you need to schedule before the deadline. Start with any routine physical, dental, or eye exams since the FSA covers deductibles and copayments. Then move on to any health care items, such as stocking up on contacts and birth control pills, cough and cold medicines, allergy medicines, and first aid products. Pull up a list of eligible purchases from your plan’s website. And you might be surprised by how many run-of-the-mill, over-the-counter drugs from your local pharmacy make it onto the list.
- If you realize you might be over-funding your FSA, contact HR immediately to see if you can make any more changes. Most plans do not allow changes after Open Enrollment ends, but Open Enrollment periods vary from place to place and many have not closed yet.
IRS is currently seeking taxpayers whose refund checks (107,831 checks totaling $123.5 million) for 2008 were returned due to mailing address errors. If you haven’t received your refund check yet, click Where’s My Refund on the IRS’s website to update your current address. And for 2009, use the direct deposit option, even if you are filing by paper, so Uncle Sam can deposit your refund directly into your bank account.